In a letter to congressional leaders, the Association of American Railroads has made clear its objections to proposals increasing truckweight limits on Northeast U.S. highways to 100,000 pounds. The exemption is included in the Obama Administration’s continuing resolution proposal.
AAR President and CEO Edward R. Hamberger (pictured at left) said such increases, particularly onInterstate highways in Maine and Vermont, could provide enough momentum to trucking interests to lift the federal truck weight ban elsewhere.
“Not only do extremely heavy trucks today exact a serious wear and tear toll on America’s already overextended highways, but much of the costs to repair roads and bridges damaged by heavy-load trucks is paid by taxpayers and not thetrucking companies responsible for the damage,” said Hamberger.
Calling it the “largest locomotive purchase agreement in the history of Brazil,” Brazilian rail operator MRS Logistica S.A. and GE Transportation announced Thursday plans to deliver 115 AC44i locomotives to MRS. The contract includes an option for 100 additional locomotives.
Both companies made the announcement Thursday at InnoTrans 2010 in Berlin.
Erie, Pa.-based GE Transportation will manufacture the locomotives at the company’s plant in Contagem, Brazil. GE’s plant in Grove City, Pa., will supply key components, including the 12-cylinder FDL diesel engine.
The locomotives will be delivered between 2011 and 2015, the companies said. Ninety units are scheduled for delivery in 2011, including 30 units covered under a previous contract and 60 as part of the newly signed agreement. GE will provide the remaining 55 locomotives between 2012 and 2015. GE says the new locomotives generate up to 15% fewer greenhouse gas emissions while lowering operating costs by approximately 15%. Three AC44i locomotives generate enough tractive effort to replace four older generation locomotives, GE claims.
“GE’s locomotives will be utilized to meet the growing demand for locomotive power in light of dynamic infrastructure development in the years ahead,” said MRS Development Director Henrique Ache Pillar. “We are looking forward to increasing our transportation capacity.” “GE is a global locomotive manufacturer who partners with railroad customers around the world,” said Lorenzo Simonelli, president and CEO of GE Transportation. “We are pleased to serve our customer MRS by providing advanced AC technology that requires less maintenance, reduces fuel consumption, and lowers emissions.”
Amtrak Thursday announced it has hired Albrecht P. Engel to head up its new high speed rail department so that Amtrak can expand its HSR opportunities. Engel, an ardent supporter of U.S. high speed rail, comes to Amtrak from AECOM.
“Engel has more than 40 years of experience in the rail transportation business and over that time has been active in the study, advocacy, and development of high speed rail projects,” said Amtrak. Engel was involved in the launch of the highly successful Acela service on Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor 10 years ago.
Engel (pictured at left), currently vice president and high speed rail director with AECOM, also serves on the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) board of directors. He also has served as chairman of the High Speed Ground Transportation Association.
“Al has considerable expertise, is a dedicated proponent for public transportation, and shares our conviction that Amtrak plays a vital, leading and necessary role in expanding and operating high speed rail service across the country,” Amtrak President and CEO Joseph Boardman said.
Said Engel in a statement, “Amtrak is an integral part of America’s high speed rail future as highways and aviation networks reach capacity in our urban areas. … I am very enthused to have this opportunity to work for Amtrak and with national and regional leaders to help implement a new balanced transportation vision for the U.S.”
U.S. intermodal freight traffic for the week ending September 18 marked a record for the year, and rose 16.9% when measured against the comparable week in 2009, the Association of American Railroads said Thursday. Intermodal also gained 2.4% over the comparable week in 2008.
Within the intermodal sector, U.S. container volume gained 18.8% for the week over 2009, and was up 11.4% for the week compared with the 2008 period.
U.S. freight carload traffic also gained when compared to the 2009 period, up 8.1%, though it still trailed 2008 levels by 2.4%. Seventeen of the 19 carload commodity groups listed by AAR increased from the comparable week in 2009 with only waste and scrap and non-metallic minerals, both down 3.3%, posting declines. Metallic ores, up 94.6%, led those commodity groups with increases from 2009. Compared with 2008, only six commodity groups registered gains, including farm products excluding grain, up 23.8%; chemicals, up 23.5%; and grain, up 20.5%.
Canadian freight carload traffic rose 10.9% for the week compared with 2009, while intermodal advanced 14.4%. Mexico’s two major railroads reported freight carload traffic up 11.7% over the comparable week in 2009, while intermodal rose 10.6%.
Combined North American freight carload volume for the first 37 weeks of 2010 on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian, and Mexican railroads was up 9.8%, while intermodal notched a 15.1% increase.
Germany’s Deutsche Bahn AG has signed a cooperation agreement with High Speed 1 Ltd., the owner of the right-of-way linking London with the Channel Tunnel, opening the possibility of direct rail service between the United Kingdom and Germany, beginning in 2013.
The pact could allow DB to run Siemens AG’s InterCity Express trains through the tunnel in competition with Eurostar Group Ltd., which operates from London to Paris and Brussels. DB seeks to connect London with cities in western Germany, the company said Wednesday. But DB still must win authorization from the French and British governments to run passenger trains via Eurotunnel.
“We can now focus on joint working to ensure all safety, technical, and commercial requirements are met prior to operation,” Ulrich Homburg, Deutsche Bahn’s board member for passenger services, said in a statement.
Direct trains from London to Frankfurt might take about five hours, DB said, suggesting such travel time could be competitive with air travel given the increasing security measures and overcrowding at airports.
Deutsche Bahn will begin safety tests through the tunnelwith Siemens ICE rolling stock on Oct. 19. The European Union last January introduced rules requiring track owners to grant access to new operators for cross-border services.
Last month DB was one of several bidders submitting a plan to operate over the High Speed 1 route, seeking a 30-year franchise.
Wisconsin Public Interest Research Group has issued a report stating that construction of “the proposed high speed rail line” running from Chicago to Milwaukee and Madison, Wis., would create 15,000 new jobs in the Badger State.
The overall Midwest region, according to the report, would see the creation of 57,000 new jobs.
“Building a high speed rail network will also boost the economy by creating construction, manufacturing, and operations jobs," the report said. "The Midwest is well positioned to see growth in rail-related manufacturing capacity.”
The rail would also be accessible to the majority of people in Wisconsin, according to WISPIRG. "The new high speed service created under the plan would place stations within 15 miles of 52% of Wisconsinites’ homes; 58% of the state’s workers would have a station within 15 miles of their workplace," the report said.
Efforts to promote higher speed rail in Wisconsin have encountered opposition from some officials as this year’s Election campaigns grow in intensity.
Harsco Corp. Wednesday announced two follow-on orders in its Harsco Rail track maintenance business group valued at more than $15 million.
The first order is a follow-on equipment sale in Germany, where the unit will join a growing fleet of Harsco rail grinders that provide precision rail grinding of complex switch and crossing rail surfaces throughout the German railway system. Delivery is scheduled for the latter part of 2011.
A second contract addresses similar switch grinding work in the U.S. but under a contract service relationship in which Harsco owns, operates, and maintains the equipment on the customer's behalf. This latest renewal covers a five-year contract period.
Russian Railways announced Wednesday it has signed a contract with Siemens AG and Siemens Russia for 16 electric trains for suburban passenger transport, with the start of localized production in Russia.
The contract was signed Tuesday by Russian Railways President Vladmir Yakunin, Siemens Mobility CEO Hans-Jorg Grundmann, and Siemens Russia President Dietrich Möller.
The contract follows pre-existing agreements between the companies.
Under the contract, 16 electric trains will be supplied. Their production will be partially localized in Russia (at least 20%). The new rolling stock will be used for suburban services in central and southern Russia.
In December 2009, Russian Railways ordered 54 suburban trains from Siemens AG. A contract was later signed for 38 Desiro-class trains, which will be produced at the Siemens plant in Krefeld, Germany.